Sports day with al-Shabaab: Somali terror group’s ‘hearts and minds’ effort features musical chairs and an egg-and-spoon race
- Group admitted responsibility for the Nairobi shopping mall siege
- At least 67 people were killed by the terrorist attack
- Group trying to win over the hearts and minds of Somali youngsters
- Games were introduced after different factions began fighting
By Tara Brady
PUBLISHED: 14:34, 3 November 2013 | DailyMail
Terror group al-Shabaab hosted a sports day for Somali children featuring an egg and spoon race and musical chairs to win as part of the group’s recruitment efforts.
The extremist group recently admitted planning September’s siege at the Westgate shopping mall siege in Nairobi, Kenya, in which at least 67 people died.
But while some interpreted that attack as a sign of weakness, in the villages of Somalia al-Shabaab is regrouping and evolving, recruiting members more quickly than it is losing them.
Terror group al-Shabaab hosted a sports day for Somali children featuring an egg and spoon race as part of hearts and minds campaign
A series of pictures posted last week on Somali websites show the work being done to win hearts and minds in the Baraawe region, an al-Shabaab stronghold.
They show uniformed men riding through town on motorbikes, as well as a sports day for children featuring events such as a sack race and egg-and-spoon races.
Other events included musical chairs, rope-balancing and motorcycle riding.
While a 2011 UN report put the group’s strength at 5,000 fighters, one Kenyan military intelligence officer recently told the Guardian that the true figure may now be three times that.
‘Al-Shabaab trains its recruits on a daily basis,’ he said. ‘They are very powerful and you cannot underestimate them.’
The group is trying to win over the hearts and minds of youngsters in the Barrawe region of Somalia
Al-Shabab is linked with al-Qaeda and emerged from the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in 2006 as it fought Ethiopian forces.
It is a banned terrorist group by both the U.S. and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000
and 9,000 fighters.
A man whose hands have been tied behind his back takes part in an eating competition during the games
The group, whose leader is Ahmed Abdi Godane, has imposed a strict version of Sharia law in areas under its control which include stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.
Football and music are banned and women have to cover their faces in public or face a lashing.
In 2010, two suicide bombers from al-Shabaab killed up to 67 people watching the World Cup final on TV in Kampala, Uganda.